As Derbyshire pupils prepare for post-16 options, here are some top tips on what to look for

With this month and next seeing a host of post 16 and sixth form opening evenings at schools across our county, we spoke to one head of sixth form to get some tips on what parents should be looking for when they visit with their child/children.
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Kate Stockton is Director of Post 16 Education at Derby Grammar School in Rykneld Road, Littleover.

She advises parents consider the following areas when they visit:

Entry requirements

Teenagers across Derbyshire are preparing for their next steps in educationTeenagers across Derbyshire are preparing for their next steps in education
Teenagers across Derbyshire are preparing for their next steps in education
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Some schools will require certain GCSE grades to study certain subjects at A-level. Make sure you’re aware of what these are so you and your child know whether they are on target to study those subjects. Many schools, including Derby Grammar School, will offer flexibility, as we know there are some circumstances where students do not get the grades they expected, but knowing what the aim is will help you to plan and choose.

Subject choices

Does the school have a broad range of subjects to choose from? Your child may already have a clear idea of what they would like to study – but are there other subjects on offer they may want to consider? At Derby Grammar School, our range of subjects allows a bespoke curriculum pallet to help individualised learning.

Class sizes

It may seem obvious, but how many people will be studying the subjects? Your child may thrive in larger groups or smaller classes, find out what the expected intake is so you can find a learning environment which suits your child.

Careers and UCAS advice

This will become critical as your child progresses through sixth form and begins to consider their next steps, whether that’s apprenticeships, work or higher education. Make sure there is a strong careers advice provision, with regular information, interviews and support along the way. For example, at Derby Grammar School we use unifrog to guide students along their journey to post 18, and have a careers fair and bespoke UCAS support and guidance.

Pastoral Care

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Parents often focus on subject leaders but a full support network for your son or daughter will be crucial as they progress through sixth form. Find out more about the support on offer for your child and the community they will be a part of.

Sixth form life

Yes, the focus of Year 12 and 13 will be academic, but a social aspect is vital for your child to enjoy their studies and thrive. What is the space for sixth formers like? What extra-curricular activities are available? If they enjoy sports, what are the sports facilities like and is there time set aside to enable them to stay active? What other opportunities are there for them to broaden their horizons and add meaningful experiences to their UCAS application or CV?

For example, here at Derby Grammar School, the student body organises social events such as formal dinners, paintballing and go karting.

In the summer of Year 12 there is the opportunity to attend a three-and-a-half-week trip to Tanzania where project work is carried out in our partner school Amani along with work in Hisani orphanage followed by the gruelling climb up Kilimanjaro. There are other opportunities for budding engineers, archers, artists, musicians and more.